Arthur Arutkin on Windsurfing Woes, Red Bull Heavy Water and his Plan to Regain his World Title.
Born in the windsurfing hotspot of Wissant into a family of a windsurfing champion sister and keen windsurfer father, it was a natural introduction into a life as a waterman. Arthur Arutkin surfs, windsurfs, races and has recently begun kitesurfing, making him a chameleon of the ocean. After several years on the APP World Tour, Arthur was crowned Racing World champion in 2018. He returned in 2019 but could not maintain his grasp around the crown taking second place overall behind the Viking, Casper Steinfath. With a fresh motivation for the year ahead, Arthur reviews his performance in the 2019 tour and reveals his game plan for beating nemesis Steinfath in 2020.
What was your highlight of the 2019 tour?
AA: I loved New York obviously because I won there, but other than that Japan is always an amazing event. The culture there is amazing and everything surrounding the event is super nice. On the purely racing side, Red Bull Heavy Water was a highlight for sure.
What was it like retuning to the tour in 2019 as the reigning World Champion?
AA: When I won in 2018, I wasn’t expecting it. I discovered that I had the ability to be at the top level, so in 2019 I was really going for it because I knew I could do it. I was expecting and training for the win. I felt the most pressure in New York as that was where I won the year before, but I was just trying to do my best.
Sometimes, I feel as though it is better to rank behind some of the others because it motivates you to train harder.
The first event of the season, London, you came 6th place. Was this a knock to your confidence?
AA: London isn’t my favourite conditions because it is in the river. I prefer racing in bumps and waves. I know the New York race is in a river, but there are always waves, so I feel like I’m in the ocean and I feel good. I was still happy with the result as it isn’t my favourite type of condition. It didn’t knock my confidence, it motivated me to train harder and get better for the rest of the tour. Sometimes, I feel as though it is better to rank behind some of the others because it motivates you to train harder.
Then you moved on to New York and came first. What was different for you?
AA: I trained harder than I did for London and it paid off and the conditions in New York really suit me. Every time you win, it’s incredible. There are so many great competitors, so to be the best at even one event is amazing and it is good for my mental state too.
You also participated in the surf event in New York, how was that?
AA: I actually started with SUP surfing and then changed my focus to racing, so it was so much fun to return to it. I placed in 9th and was proud of myself for that. That has motivated me to do more SUP surf events in 2020. Since New York, I have been doing more surfing in training, so going to try and do some more stops this year.
Tell us about your Red Bull Heavy Water experience.
AA: 2019 was my second time competing in Heavy Water. The first time I did it in 2017 I was really scared. There was huge waves and I was on a 14-foot board… I wasn’t expecting that intensity. In 2019 I was still scared, but I knew what I was getting myself into, so I really gave it my all, where I didn’t the first time.
You have to give your all or you won’t even finish, it’s like no other event. I can’t wait to do it again though, it’s so fun.
What was the hardest part of Heavy Water?
AA: Both the surfing and racing parts were hard. Finishing the long distance was super hard, as it went on for two hours. When I made it to the beach, I didn’t think I would make it back out again, but I managed to stay focused. Everyone made it through the distance, but not everyone made it through the waves, so I think the waves were challenging for everyone.
Each condition on their own was manageable, like the fog, the current, the waves, but all together, it was intense. For 10 days after I was destroyed. I was still managing to train but I was exhausted. You have to give your all or you won’t even finish, it’s like no other event. I can’t wait to do it again though, it’s so fun.
I knew I had to come first and when I realised, I wasn’t going to I couldn’t do it anymore, I kind of gave up.
The tour concluded in Paris where you had to win the distance race to win the world title. How did you feel there?
AA: The months before the event I wasn’t feeling great. I found it hard to focus after the Heavy Water event… I couldn’t bounce back from it. For the whole of the Paris event, I felt really down. I knew I had to come first and when I realised I wasn’t going to I couldn’t do it anymore, I kind of gave up.
What is the most scared you’ve ever been in the water?
AA: The first year I did heavy water is one of the most scared I have been in the water. I didn’t know what would happen if I fell into the big waves.
This year I went windsurfing in Teahupo'o, Tahiti and the surf was pretty big. I fell on a wave and lost all my gear… I couldn’t even find it afterwards.
What have you been doing to make sure you’re on top form for the competitions next year?
AA: I went to Hawaii for three months where I practised a lot of downwind racing and racing in waves, which will hopefully help me reach Casper. I am super motivated, and I am going to train my best and hopefully I will beat Casper and the other guys this year and get the title of overall champion back.
Biggest accomplishment so far in your career?
AA: Winning the APP World Tour was unbelievable. The first week I couldn’t quite believe it. I also love landing new moves in windsurfing… it is amazing.
Keep up with all our athletes at @appworldtour and www.appworldtour.com